Except it doesn’t really feel like much of an A plot story. The set up is fairly simple: Harry Wilson gets sent on yet another diplomatic mission, this time for a spot of dogsitting while the ambassador tries to negotiate a peaceful end to a multi-century long civil war.
While Harry’s watching the dog there are, of course, complications. This time in the form of a giant carnivorous plant and an underground cave system–which, of course, holds the clue to what happened to the Icheloe’s missing king.
There are some new bits of information but not a whole lot and I honestly am having a hard time seeing how this fits in with the rest of the story so far. It doesn’t really seem to fit–unless the Icheloe have a larger role to come, of course. Which they might. I guess we’ll see.
This was pretty entertaining and I think that if I weren’t expecting to see more explicit movement in the main plot that I’d be really happy with it–so part of my dissatisfaction is definitely with me and not with the text (wow, it’s really freeing to be able to say that). The story is definitely well-written and enjoyable on its own, it just doesn’t seem to be lifting its weight in the overall story arc unless there’s something really subtle going on that I’m missing.
Things I liked about the story: the giant carnivorous plants, the gardener and his completely inappropriate curiosity–it was very Gregor Vorbarra-ish in its “let’s see what happens”-ness, and Tuffy the dog. I liked the not fully explored caverns under the planet and I liked the way they played a critical role in the plot. I liked the way Wilson and company try so very hard not to offend their hosts.
So to sum up: amusing short story, unsure how this fits into the bigger picture. And at the halfway point, I would have expected to see something more substantive here.
I’m definitely going to have to re-read the whole novel after all the parts have been published.